Analysis by timelab

Understanding Formalab

In the first phase of the Formalab project, timelab has been working on an analysis of the Formalab concept and its potential benefits to the international community of fablabs and educational sector. In this report we summarise our findings, research questions and conclude with a test case for a Formalab workshop.


Do fablabs need Formalab?

it would be useful to think about the way we as a fablab think about education and training. Therefor we need a methodology. This is where formalab can be a added value to all fablabs. It opens up the possibilities to work together with vocational training centers and learn from each other.

Do educators need Formalab?

The fablab way of learning is based on blended and open learning, sharing amongst peers and learn by doing. Let us explain this a bit more: The way each individual learns in a different way and tempo is influenced by the way they sort information, off line and online. This results in a very individual set of skills and knowledge. Because, in an open structure as the fablab community, results of research and individual creations are shared in a very early stage, most of the interesting information available for makers is not finished or complete. The result is that mostly manuals are not included and the possibilities of future outcomes are very open. This can be seen as an advantage. Without a a to z manual, learners start building robots based on their own creativity and through trial and error. They learn to solve problems that occur by helping each other in a very individual one-on-one way of sharing knowledge and skills. P2P learning is therefor a very important characteristic of the way fablabs look at training: everyone is an expert in his or her own way. It is within the difference between people and the openess to learn from each other that opportunities lay.


Today is gets harder and harder to evaluate competences based on comparisons or 

life bound and interdisciplinary 


If we want educators to be coaches. If we want to help learners to develop and grow and in the mean time learn them to valuate their competences, than the fablab approach can be very helpful.

How to make Formalab a success

In order to really utilise the formalab potential we propose to make a Formalab portal site. The formalab portal will be a website dedicated to fablabs offering formalab workshops and educators. The portal will be a one-stop shop for educators looking for hands-on formalab workshops to book at a fablab nearby or to organise themselves. The website will include:

  • a database with free open source formalab workshops
  • background information about the formalab project
  • a step by step guide and a key competence dictionary will facilitate fablabs in creating formalab workshops.

Potential issues & possible solutions

Fablabs need to invest time and people in documenting the workshops according to the Formalab guidelines.
Who / which organisation can decide the level of importance of each key competence in the formalab workshops?
How do we deal with the different languages each fablab operates in?
People interprete the European key competences differently, can we make a key competences dictionary dedicated to the fablab environment to facilitate creating a formalab workshop?

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